The Slovenia Times

Businesses Worried about Russia Sanctions


Aleš Cantarutti, the head of the international relations department at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), told the STA the latest sanctions would not directly hurt Slovenian companies.

The measures affect mainly weapons, dual-use technologies and energy products, but these accounted for only about a million euros in Slovenia's exports to Russia last year, compared to over a billion euros in overall exports.

Nevertheless, Cantarutti says the sanctions could accelerate Russia's drive to improve self-sufficiency, which could have long-term implications on trade with the EU.

Indeed, trade has already slowed down, as Slovenia's exports to Russia declined 7.8% in the first four months of the year.

"If the trend continues due to the new facts, exports to Russia and Ukraine could drop 20% over the previous year...which is not negligible," according to him.

Accordingly, said Cantarutti, businesses are worried. "There is more caution about contracts. Everyone is waiting to see what will happen."

Similarly, SPIRIT, the trade and tourism promotion agency, says companies are not reporting problems in Russia.

"But if the sanctions are long-term, it could affect two-way trade as well as foreign direct investments," the agency said.

Telecommunications equipment company Iskratel, which does extensive business in Russia and Central Asia, says its business has not been affected yet.

However, the company will have to examine the latest sanctions "in particular if they refer to dual-use technology," said CEO Željko Puljić.

He said Slovenian officials should do everything they can to protect the interests of domestic companies.

"Shortfall of revenue cannot be offset overnight. Together with sanctions against Russia, the EU should take measures to mitigate their effects in the member states," he said.

Home appliances maker Gorenje said it was difficult to say how the latest sanctions will effect the business climate in what is one of its largest single markets.

"So far we have felt mostly the impact of the uncertain conditions in Ukraine," the company said in a statement for the STA.

Like the GZS, the Foreign Ministry expects the latest sanctions to directly reduce exports by just 0.1%. since the measures are targeted at areas that account for a tiny share of the trade with Russia.

Slovenia "supports the strengthening of the measures", but insists that the process must be "gradual and reversible", whereby the EU-Russia dialogue must continue, the ministry said in a statement for the STA.


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